Innate goodness; innate intellegince – parents keep the faith
When Justin was a baby, he was different from what I expected and from what the firstborn had been. I wasn’t prepared for that. I had yet to realize that each child is different, sometimes very much so. Back to baby Justin. He did not want any light whatsoever to sleep, and he was a good sleeper. From the time he came home from the hospital, he went down around 7 pm, woke up at 5 am, and only woke up once to nurse. He nursed for exactly one hour, with his eyes open – he never nursed to sleep. He did not want to be rocked, just put him in his bed and leave him alone. He never spoke much, not even baby babble. He loved music and played with one toy all the time – a John Deere tractor peddle toy.
As he got older, he was not interested in going places. Not to children’s church activities, or school activities, or to his grandparents. They could talk him into it if his older brother was going, but it wouldn’t have bothered him if he never went.
It took a lot of coaxing to get a hug and kiss from him. I always thought he was a little backwards.
In junior high, he began failing first one class, then another. Here is where I learned the greatest lesson of all. As a teacher at his school, I was so embarrassed by all the emails and conversations from his teachers. “He’s just not that book smart,” they would say. “He just won’t do any work.” In 3rd grade, a teacher went so far as to tell me that he would never amount to much. I always wondered how a person could tell that at 3rd grade.
Anyway, the failing grades and the fact that he would not do any homework was very painful – for me and him. I yelled at him a lot, and grounded him even more. He didn’t mind; he stayed home just like he preferred.
My husband, his father is a farmer and rancher (retired now) who thinks he finished 6th grade. He went to school, never liked it, and quit to work in the fields following in the footsteps of 7 brothers. He is deliberate, hard-working, honest to a fault (if that is possible), and well-respected by everyone, especially by me.
After a very frustrating 7th grade year, I decided that Justin and I needed counseling before I killed him or at the least damaged our relationship beyond repair. We went to the psychologist, and we talked with her for a while before she asked if she could speak to me alone. I was bewildered. I expected her to talk to Justin. After all, wasn’t he the problem?
All she said to me is, “Why do you feel the need to control everything?” The heavens opened, and we went home.
When talking to my husband, Rod, about it he gave me the best parenting advice ever. He told me that I needed to look at the big picture. He said that Justin may never like school, he certainly did not. He said that it was much more important for us to see that Justin was honest, hardworking, and caring. He told me, “You are not going to care in 20 years if Justin failed the 2nd six weeks of 7th grade English, but you will care if he is in jail, won’t work, or beats his family.”
I backed off. I did not like it. He did not like school either. He did not like to sit down, or be inside, or write with a pencil. He did however, like the smartest girl in the class, worked every day with his daddy, and was trusted by people much older than he in the community. His uncles and daddy taught him many things; things I did not understand even though I was such a cultured city kid with a graduate degree.
He got through school. I finally asked him just to be quiet and not keep others from learning. The smart girlfriend did most of his work – enough for him to get by. She became the Valedictorian, and he married her and put her through college. He works everyday, outside in all kinds of weather. People come to him for advice. He was at the birth of his three children and continues to be their closest comrade. He helps us – mows for us, works on things, moves things, changes light bulbs, etc
While cleaning out file cabinets after I retired, I found a file with all of Justin’s discipline notices. There was not one thing there that was a big deal. One really got me laughing. “Justin will not keep his feet out of the aisle and it continues to trip Ryan.” Big Deal. What kind of no good scoundrel does that!!
He amounted to much more than the 3rd grade teacher..